Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Owl's Head Cliffs: 10/15/19

On a glorious golden October day I joined Cath Goodwin and her amiable and energetic canine companion Hank for a hike into the Pemi Wilderness. After trekking in to Lincoln Brook, we navigated a steep bushwhack to the top of the cliffs on the SE spur of Owl's Head. The foliage, views and company were magnificent.

Cath and Hank stroll up the Lincoln Woods Trail, with no one else around post-Columbus Day.

Logging artifacts from the East Branch and Lincoln Railroad at the site of Camp 8. As a USFS trailside information sign notes, artifacts such as these are protected by law and should not be disturbed.

Long view north up the East Branch to Bondcliff and its southern spur peak.

Bed frames at the site of Camp 7.

Beside the outlet of Black Pond, a view of the sharp south peak of Owl's Head Mountain, the feature which gave the remote 4000-footer its name.  Our clifftop objective is seen lower down to the right.

Spiry reflection.

Peaceful morning at Black Pond.

 Bondcliff and its south ridge.

We headed north on the herd path known as the Black Pond "bushwhack," but partway along we lost it amidst the newly fallen leaf cover. So for us it really was a bushwhack, mostly through open hardwoods.

Cath admires an unusual quartet of beech trees.

Lincoln Brook.

Beautiful hardwood forest at the base of the south slope of Owl's Head.

Time for a snack break.

The golden forest.

A mini-tunnel.

This is bear country.

Fresh claw marks amidst the old scratches on this trunk.

October glory.

A long, steady climb up the slope.

Crossing the bed of the long spur line of the East Branch and Lincoln Railroad that curves around the south end of Owl's Head from Franconia Brook to Lincoln Brook, well up on the slope. A remarkable work of construction.

A bit of birch glade.

An interesting ledge formation.

Steep and rocky.

A ledge band high up on the slope.

The upper climb was amply steep.

Reaching the col behind the SE spur.

Hank leads the way towards the clifftop area. Upon our arrival, I was disappointed to find that an open ledge perch enjoyed on previous visits was now overgrown, with only tree-restricted views. 

Even though there was no open hangout spot anymore, careful exploration revealed some fine views, such as this spread of the Bond Range rising beyond the Franconia Brook valley. Also notable about this wild, lofty perch was the silence, save for the distant roar of the brooks far below in the surrounding valleys.

Zoom on a beaver pond beside the Franconia Brook Trail.

The trio of Bond peaks wrapping around the Hellgate Brook valley.

Further probing revealed a broad view south down the East Branch valley.

The Osceolas and the several summits of Scar Ridge.

 Expanding the view to include the Cedar Brook valley and the Hancocks on the left.

The sharp south peak (the "Owl's Head") looms close by to the NW.

Whaleback Mountain and Mt. Flume beyond the lower Lincoln Brook valley.


A profile showing the steepness of the south peak.

Looking across the lower Franconia Brook valley to Bondcliff, Mt. Carrigain and the Hancocks.

Carrigain and the Hancocks, with Mt. Anderson, Mt. Lowell and Vose Spur on the left.

Cliff face.

Raven's eye view.

Late afternoon light on the Bond Range.

The slides in the Redrock Brook cirques are well-displayed. South Twin is on the far left.

Descending through the gauzy hardwood forest.

An elbow tree.

Dreamy western Pemi whacking.

A small tributary of Lincoln Brook flows off the south slope.

A big chunk of stone hidden in the forest.

A large artifact along the Lincoln Brook Trail.

Franconia Brook, more a river than a brook. After a bit of studying, we were able to rock-hop it, thanks to a low water level. Most definitely to be avoided in high water.

Dusk view of the Owl's Head from a beaver wetland near Franconia Brook Trail.

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